Looking very studious is the young Herb
Monthly Archives: March 2011
Here’s One You Can Buy: Brooks Brothers Jersey Popover BD (Happy Update)
Unlike the Gant Yale Co-op post, this one has a positive update!
Met with The Ivy Smugglers this morning deep into enemy beardy workwear territory in Shoreditch (think Williamsburg if you’re over the other side) to pick up three of the five of these shirts I ordered a few weeks back. So, it’s true, Brooks Brothers (at least in the USA) still does have some nice stuff. And, beleive me, I’m realluy glad to report that. No one relishes the demise of these venerable institutions.
In fact, my contact was also wearing one. These are pretty slim fitting too, great for those who remain youthful of figure. Nice colours, good quality jersey and proper button cuffs. Pick some up before they go forever.
I don’t know about you but I hate all those fashion blogs that post the same images of “HipsterBeardyWorkwear X Redundant Old Brand” where you can never actually buy the items even if you wanted to, limited as they often are to some tiny boutique in Tokyo or Shoreditch.
However, with the recent Gant posts and BTS interest in the LL Bean classic cord jackets, I thought why not do some regular posts called ‘Here’s One You Can Buy’ to go alongside all the vintage pieces and adverts of clothes we’ll never again? (Classic & Sportscar always used to do those to go alongside reviews of rare machines).
So the first one is courtesy of Mr Shoreditch himself (only joking), Herb Lester.
Now, Herb and I have had many recent discussions about just how bad Brooks Brothers has become in recent years. From the appalling Mumsiness of the M&S years to the ASOS generation fashion victim current products, where does one begin. Herb is a staunch defender of the BB faith and even looks great in non-iron (although beads of sweat do gather on his brow from the insulation effect).
However, I will be the first to admit that like any brand, when they do it right, it’s great.
With that argument in mind, this morning Herb send me a link to the long sleeve jersey button down popover pictured above, a copy of which Mrs Lester had just brought back from the US for him. Now, Mr Lester is a man of refined taste and I’ve not known him to be wrong on such matters. My first question was “great, but is it eight feet wide?’. The answer, happily, is no, it’s a slim fit shirt.
Available in a range of colours and currently discounted to a mere USD$39.95 a piece, Herb and I ordered some more this morning via the Ivy trafficking routes. I thought I’d get a spare dark blue one to turn into a S/S model for the summer too.
Anyway, Ivy fans. Here’s One That You CAN Buy
Ivy Bucks. They Weren’t Always Red Brick Soles…
“The Shoe With the Open Collar Feeling”
Here’s an interesting ad from circa 1960 by the Brown Shoe Company of St Louis for their Roblee Ivy Bucks. Interestingly these are sporting the gray brown micro sole that became ubiquitous in use by english shoemakers in the late 60s until the 80s when it they started to really use a lot more Dainite and Vibram pre-moulded units.
Personally I prefer the red soles anyday.
Interesting footnote is that the Brown Shoe Company are the people who bought the name and history of the much lamented Walk-Over shoes and are now producing dirty bucks and saddle oxfords under that brand. Unfortunately, they are designed on a last they must have bought from Barnum & Bailey’s clown division…
The Return of GANT Pt 2 – The Yale Co-Op Shirt (Nasty Branding WARNING!)
REALITY CHECK UPDATE:
Herb Lester and I went into the Regent St Gant Store today to check out the new arrival Yale Co-op shirts. Sure enough, there was a large round table set up in the main doorway, with all the shirts laid out in folded piles and a a number of smug looking staff, who presumably seeing a couple of ivyists thought they had a sale. I was planning to buy a couple of them. Then a sales assistant came up to me and said “these are our new yell coop range” – literally like ‘phone book chicken hut’ pronunciation. I asked her to unfold a medium for me. As she did she took great pride in pointing out the GANT modern logo hideously sewn into the too fat locker loop, like the Dad’s Terrace Wear shirts of their mainstream offering. WTF? Someone at Gant has gone to all the trouble of going through the archives and even reproducing vintage labels and swing tickets. This has presumably gone before a committee of marketing muppets who’ve said ‘Oh no! Our style bible says they MUST be branded’.
Why go to all that trouble just to put some tacky modern branding on? I went downstairs and bought a really nice light flannel plaid BD from the Rugger range. No nasty branding and the young kid working down in the basement, was amazed at the original 60s Gant The Hugger I was sporting. I know we’re in 2011 and not 1966, but then it was Gant themselves that came up with all this ‘Yell Coop’ nonsense!
If they get down the sale Herb said he’d buy a couple but cut of the locker loop. I agree with that, because for £75 you could find a vintage deadstock Hugger…
Funny, but just as made that previous Gant post the other day, Fred in LA sent me a link to this post by ACL on the limited edition Gant Yale Co-op shirts they are about to release for their new New Haven Gant Campus store.
I don’t usually repost other people’s blog posts but this one seems relevant to my last one so here are couple of images from ACL’s post.
No word on whether they’ll be available outside the US, but they will supposedly be available online from the Campus store.
Read the original post on A Continuous Lean
Campus Ivy 1963
Great image from a 1963 College Yearbook.
(Thanks to Herb again for the source)
What’s The Weejun Buying on Ebay? Johnston & Murphy Deadstock Saddle Oxfords (Too Small – Now Back on eBay!)
It’s no use denying it. Saddle shoes are on a comeback, whether it’s nasty fashion versions or the classic tan/white or tan/buck variants. I’ve always had a soft spot for them and for years I’ve kept a pair that I bought from Crockett & Jones factory made for Ralph Lauren Polo about 15 years ago.
They were only £10, presumably because the number of people prepared to pay more for them in the backstreets of Northampton was extremely limited. They are really nice as you would expect from C&J but they are tan leather and bone colour leather. I’d always preferred the tan and dirty buck version as a more wearable daily shoe.
The great Walk-Over made a beautiful version (please don’t confuse them with the ridiculous clown shoes of the newly resurrected Walk-Over) but they are hard to find in good condition, so I was pretty pleased to find this version by Johnston & Murphy from the 1980s in deadstock condition on US eBay this week.
J&M used to be a a great shoemaker and even as late as the mid-90s were still producing variants of two tone ‘sports’ shoes harking back to the 40s and 50s. These days J&M has become a hideous off shore lifestyle brand specialising in atrocious looking ‘comfort’ shoes and cheaply sourced cashmere and silk blend zip cardigans and the like. But, it has heritage. This pair of shoes are most probably from the 1980s because they still bear the stamp ‘Unmistakeably Johnston & Murphy’ which they had since at least the 1940s and were still using as late as 1984 (see this NYT story).
The unusual thing about these high end saddle oxfords is that they have a separate stacked leather heel with the Vibram sole being goodyear welted and using a red rubber top piece for the heel. Normally, dirty bucks and saddle oxfords have a moulded one piece unit. I also like the tassels on the rope laces, reminding me of one of the nice Grenson models from the 1980s that was a self coloured saddle shoe with a dainite golf sole in tan grain.
The saddle shoe was introduced in 1906 by the great Spalding sports manufacturer and was used for playing tennis, becoming popular as a resort shoe, an early precursor of sneakers and trainers. It has survived in the US (and post war in Japan) almost ever since as a true American classic.
I’ve sometime felt a bit self conscious wearing the tan/white Polo pair in London, but these dirty buck versions are think are much more wearable.
These days even Ralph Lauren versions are more likely to be made in Italy, not goodyear welted and the indisputable kings of the dirty bucks are now Brazil and China.
Bass models have nice uppers designs but the stuck on fake stitched soles have clumsy welts, Florsheim an odd toe shape, modern J&M nasty grey soles, Cole Haan a bit too fussy and cheap linings. Most others get too many details wrong, like the front vamp not being short enough etc. The only saddle oxford that I think looks classic is by David Spencer, which can be found online in the US from a few retailers, but John Rushton is talking to Sanders about making a goodyear welted version for his store in London.
The Return of GANT – Quietly and By Accident?
In amongst the usual Dad’s wear and euro sloane preppy nonsense, in the last couple of seasons, GANT have sneaked in some really nice bits and pieces to their Rugger collection.
I don’t know what their PR is like in the US but here in the UK it’s like they were told they had to sell the stuff and really, really didn’t want to. The Rugger line seems to be only available physicall in the Regent St flagship store (and then in amongst incoming boxes with the changing rooms blocked by unpacked stock from upstairs etc).
When I first went there just after the store opened last year, the guy in charge of the Rugger section told me ‘the styles are a bit funny, like I wore at school’. I was wearing a 1960s Gant The Hugger and showed him the label. He didn’t understand what I said. He worked for the company but had no idea of the history. His brain visibly melted and he walked away. There was a french speaking black guy smartly dressed upstairs who, understanding why I was buying ‘the look’ took me back down to show me some other things and Herb Lester told me he recently went in the store, headed straight for downstairs and then came right back up, a shop assistant desperately trying to grab him. “Was it the stuff downstairs you’re looking for?”
Even online the Autumn/Winter 2010 season merited 9 pages of items (a lot of it poor, but some decent gems in amongst it) but despite checking for the Spring/Summer 2011 stuff, the site is still down to 2 pages of post sale goods when you click on the Rugger heading. Strange then, that trawling through the generic ‘shirts’ tab on the main website brings up a number of obscurely labelled items such as R1 and R2 which are Rugger pieces, but it seems no one could be bothered to add them to the right category on the site. Very odd.
I’ve picked up a number of pieces from them, mostly shirts but also the really nice 1970s style puffa jacket (called “The Puffer” – they all have names you see) which is now discounted on the Sale section.
It was whilst watching the Omen II of all things and the scene of Damien and his pals playing on the ice that made me think about classic puffers again. Many an admiring comment from strangers to Paul Simons and Theo at John Simons, both of whom thought my gray blue version was an authentic vintage piece.
I guess it’s because, like me, most people gave up on Gant 20 years ago. Where Ralph Lauren occasionally gets ivy style close enough, Gant had missed it by a long way since being bought by the Swedes. Now, however it’s possible to find nice madras shirts in a slim fit with third back button, a great blue oxford popover with button flap pocket, and some generally interesing bits and pieces. The branding is subtle too. None of that Gant logo stuff on the pockets or locker loops.
Don’t get me wrong you have to selective, a couple of the shirts I bought online had some extraneous details which meant they needed sending back, but their lack of intelligable marketing meant that there were lots of items going for half price in the last sale in January (they recently sent me an ‘e-brochure’ for the new season that was miniscule and could not be resized on the screen!)
It must be said, however, that their mail order online is second to none, sometimes items are dispatched the same day as ordering (for next day delivery) and since December there’s been no charge. Returns are free too.
Some of the stuff may be aimed at the same ASOS / Fred Perry crowd that Baracuta seems intent on wooing but it’s nice to see them bringing back some interesting shirts at prices two thirds of similar RL product.
Much has been blogged about Gant digging into its heritage, opening on Bleecker St etc, but it’s entirely from the ‘beardy workwear’ brigade. No one seems to have really picked up on it from the Ivy side despite the original Gant’s credentials.
To be honest, I’d take one of these selected shirts over the much overrated Gitman Heritage any day. Made in USA they may be but Gitman, like BD Baggies before them, suffer from the cardinal sin of button down shirts – double row stitching on the collar. That’s fine for chambray workshirts but shouldn’t be seen on oxfords!
I do agree that it’s a bit cheeky of GANT to be using the Amalgamated Clothing Workers Union stamp but I guess that’s as much a relic as the original The Hugger shirt? Yes, GANT is back but it seems to be by accident. Buy it while you can, the tide will soon go out and the ivy touches will be history once more.
Here’s an update on those two shirts featured here that I ordered. The blue poplin plaid check shirt is really nice, good collar with roll etc, but the madras suffers from that modern malaise – the mini button down collar. I hadn’t expected that from Gant as most of their shirts (even the standard product) doesn’t suffer the Ralph Lauren/Brooks Brothers ‘clifford’ issue. Sorry, but I just can’t stand mini collars that have no roll to them. The madras colours on the shirt were great and the flap pocket a nice touch reminiscent of vintage Gant Foxhunt Plaid shirts. I’ve sent this back for a refund and replaced it with another blue oxford popover…
However good news on the Gant front to follow in the next post.
You Need The Right Car to Go With It…
Apres Ski Playboy Chukkas, Michigan 1963
Unusual Playboy chukkas in what appears to be tan leather with a natural blond crepe sole…
Pendleton From Head to Toe – 1958
Both the plaid sports jacket and the holdall are really nice, although I’m not sure I’d want to wear one and carry the other at the same time. The holdall should be one for the Japanese reissue…